The World Heritage Convention, created in 1972, is one of the most important global conservation instruments. The primary mission of the Convention is to identify and protect the world's natural and cultural heritage considered to be of Outstanding Universal Value.
The Convention embodies a visionary idea – that some places are so important that their protection is not only the responsibility of a single nation, but is also the duty of the international community as a whole; and not only for this generation, but for all those to come.
It is governed by the World Heritage Committee supported by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the secretariat for the Convention, and three technical advisory bodies to the Committee: IUCN is the Advisory Body on natural heritage, evaluating sites that are nominated and in accordance with the relevant Convention criteria 7 - 10:
7. to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
8. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
9. to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
10. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
For more information on the World Heritage Convention, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Centre website.